Getting to Machu Picchu should be as exciting as enjoying your day in the lost city of the Incas. Depending on your agenda and time limitations, you should decide on either getting into the famous 4-day trek of the Inca Trail or taking a train and do the one day visit (either sleeping or not in Aguas Calientes). Some more adventurous travelers (although only a few) walk through the train rails for a two or three day trip (One day walking in, one day in Machu Picchu and one day on the walk back… rough but cheap
· Departing from Lima, take the 1-hour flight into Cusco. There is an average of 10 daily Lima-Cusco flights from 6.00 am until 3.00 pm
· Arrive to Cusco, the capital of the Incas Empire, and you will have a chance to either stay at the city for a couple days at Pariwana Hostel Cusco or to take a bus (or a taxi) to the Urubamba River into Ollantaytambo train station (approximately 1.5 to 2 hours ride)
· All trains, except one, depart from Ollantaytambo. There are actually 8 to 10 daily train departures from there. You can also take the train from Cusco, but it will take you longer (as it has to go up in the mountains and down again to reach the Urubamba Valley). The single train service from Cusco to Machu Picchu leaves at 6am from Cusco (really, really early.)
· From Ollantaytambo enjoy the 1.5 hour fantastic train ride entering into the Rainforest Jungle of the Machu Picchu Sanctuary area until arriving to Aguas Calientes (small town just below Machu Picchu citadel) · From Aguas Calientes, you need to take the 20 minute bus ride to the top of the archaeological complex. Alternatively you can save the bus ride and walk up (will approximately take you an hour)
· You will then be at the main door of one the most fantastic experiences in your life: a visit to Machu Picchu. A usual tour around the ruins will take 3 hours but you can stay more in the complex just feel its energy and vibe. Nevertheless, your visit will be restrained to the train departure schedule in your way back to Cusco. If you would like to enjoy the citadel at your own pace, you could stay the night in Aguas Calientes, and return to Cusco on the next day.
Inca Trail option
· Arrive to Cusco, the capital of the Incas Empire, and you will have a chance to either stay at the city for a couple days at Pariwana Hostel Cusco or to take a bus (or a taxi) to the Urubamba River into km 82 or 88 of the Valley
· You will start the 4-day trek from there, and reach Machu Picchu in the morning of the fourth day.
Railway option (cheaper but dangerous)
· From Ollantaytambo you can take a 2 soles bus until the last bus stop (km 88) following the Urubamba River. From there you can start your walk 28km walk to Aguas Calientes following the railway. It is a mild downhill or uphill (depending if you are going or returning)
· If you decide to take this route (at your own risk!), estimate an average walk speed of 3-4km per hour (7 hour walk from km 88 to Aguas Calientes). Try to be there as early as possible as you would not want to get stuck during the night.
· We DO NOT RECOMMEND this route for many reasons.
· First, Peru Rail prohibits trekkers through the tracks. (Although local porteros use the way a shortcut walks to Machu Picchu). However, they know the road upside down to be safe.
· Second, you will find dangerous animals on your way (tarantulas, red hawks, among others.)
· Third, there are some tunnels which can be quite dangerous, specially as train appear round blind corner with short warning. It is difficult to hear the trains as the noise of river is quite heavy.